I’m Self-Centered Like That!

Before I joined my current organization, I was a freelance social media consultant. One of the main things I did was managing Facebook pages for companies and brands.

I did that for close to three years.

But even during those days when it was actually my job to be online, and also that I had all the time in the world, I didn’t take to Facebooking much. Between Facebook and Twitter, I’ve always preferred Twitter.

I liked and still like very much how efficient Twitter is. The tweets are mostly withint 140 characters, and it’s up to me if I want to learn more by clicking on the links or just leave it as that. And I love how I could add twitter accounts to lists, and boy, do I make full use of the ‘list’ feature!

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I could, very quickly, find out what’s up with the particular category of people, organizations or causes by calling up the tweets by list. Mostly, I use Twitter to keep abreast of many different types of stuff that interest me, like newsy websites, online business, my korean hiphop obsession, etc etc etc. In fact, I follow very few friends or people I actually know in real life. And it’s served me very well. The trending topics also let me know very quickly about the pulse of the online world.

But Facebook…. that’s a different animal altogether. It’s alot more social than I like to deal with. As much as I adore following pages of businesses, brands, causes and communities, the near-compulsive need of many people to make as many Facebook friends as they can repulses me.

I am a true-blue introvert and am an almost extreme case of an awkwardly social adult. As much as I believe in friendship, I’ve never seen the need for a large social circle, nor do I believe that it’s a numbers game. I like my own small inner support group of, say, fewer than a handful.

To be honest, you can even say I’m self-centered. Or rather, instead of saying I care only about myself, perhaps it’s more appropriate to say I usually can’t care less about acquaintances.

For the longest time, I tried vigilantly to keep my number of Facebook friends to below 100.

Shocking for some, I know.

I know of people with thousands of friends, although I can never imagine myself knowing that many people. While it is probably nice to have that big a network, I dislike the ‘management’ of it. If that many peeps are my friends on facebook, I cannot imagine the number of posts I have to scroll through.

Yes, of course I know one can create lists on Facebook too, but why? I mean, if I put most of the people in Acquaintances, so that their updates don’t appear on my wall, what does it mean? It simply means to me I don’t really need to know what’s happening in their lives. And if I have to create different lists to ensure that the contents that I share are ‘properly’ censored and delivered to the different groups of people, then I think it’s too much work for personal use of the social media network.

Back then when I was shortlisting my Facebook friends every couple of months, I would happily unfriend anyone whose faces I could not recall, or if I could not remember the last facetime encounter we had. And I would, too, happily unfriend anyone whose updates hadn’t appeared on my wall for a long time. Why? Coz if they ain’t gonna update much, then why keep them as Facebook friends? And if they have been updating, but I haven’t seen these updates, then it means they’ve blocked me from most of the contents, then it’s even more pointless, right?

So, I reasoned that for people I genuinely cared about, of course I’d keep them coz I really wanted to know what they ate for lunch, haha! But for most other people, honestly, I just couldn’t care less.

And I also belong to the group of peeps who believe that many many people deliberately create a happier-than-real picture of their lives. The conservative, old-school traditionalist in me thinks that it’s terribly unhealthy as it encourages ‘competition’ amongst people to post the most glamorous of outfits, the most lavish of meals, the biggest of group outings, the funnest of holidays, and the biggest of smiles. It distorts the meaning of sharing.

Did you see the video I’d shared IN THIS EARLIER POST? Almost painfully real, but yes, ohhhh, so real!

I believe I ain’t the only one feeling this way. Read interesting post from Vulcan Post, WHY I DELETED MY FACEBOOK MOBILE APP. While I ain’t about to go that extreme end anytime soon, I do think many people are experiencing (over)sharing fatigue. In my mind, Instagram’s feeding this trend even more ferociously.

And oh, while I’m at it, will also share this two-part series where the writer actually spoked about QUITTING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR 30 DAYS, and HOW THINGS PANNED OUT AFTER THE 30 DAYS’ DETOX PROGRAM.

Although I’m now kindda unable to keep to my Facebook friends to below 100 due mostly to my job, I still try to keep to a reasonably manageable number. And hehe, although some people have waned off Twitter, it’s still a good catch-up app for me.

Unless you use Facebook as a networking tool, or as a platform to spread info or create awareness about certain causes, of if you’re actually actively building an online fanbase for whatever reasons, I kindda agree with this video that most people can do with just 150 friends or even fewer. And the close core will probably be just a handful, or perhaps two handfuls for some people.

Have you watched this video that CNA shared earlier this month? Quite true!

Yea, call me self-centered if you wish. But I just ain’t interested to follow the everyday stories of people whom I don’t call friends, unless your posts are interesting, or unless you share links that I enjoy reading. Keke, life’s too short to spend poring over Facebook posts of people I don’t care much for.

I’d much rather be sleeping, or watching my fave Korean variety shows, hee!

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What I Really Wanted to Say 我還想說的話

剛剛在臉書上看到讓我小小冒煙的帖子。。。

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你們看看帖子底下的那些留言! *小小冒煙ing…*

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回到正題,我在臉書上這麼回了:

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他們說這家壽司連鎖店很親PAP,然後又說這事被政治化了。其實我還想說的是:

明明是他們自己硬硬把一件值得高興的事給政治化了!

Progressive Wage Model Is Better Than Minimum Wage Lah!

Heard about Singapore’s very own Progressive Wage Model (PWM)? I know of friends who have read about it on MIYAGI’s BLOG.

Yea, yea, I know it takes all kinds to make the world, and I’m really really really prepared to accept that everyone has his or her own take on things. But seriously, I don’t get why some people don’t get that the PROGRESSIVE WAGE MODEL we have in Singapore is better than the minimum wage model in other parts of the world. Get that? Hee, basically what I’m saying is I think our Progressive Wage Model (PWM) is better than minimum wage lah!

Practically all minimum wage models in the world work like this: the government, usually in consultation with companies and unions, sets a minimum wage, so all businesses are expected to abide by it. No one is to offer anyone employment at rates below the legislated minimum wage.

Sounds like a great way to help the poor? I don’t think so leh.



Why Minimum Wage Doesn’t Work Well

pwm1

First things first, there are so many jobs requiring different skillsets, and offering different working conditions that span across all industries, how can there be a one-size-fits-all minimum wage? What’s right for one category of work may be too high or too low for another category.

Secondly, it’s been proven the world over that while the minimum wage model does benefit some pockets of the workforce, it’s ironic that it seems to do the least for the people who need it the most.

In many countries that have implemented the minimum wage model, the people earning low wages and living in poverty do not actually work in big corporations. A high percentage of them work in small local setups that can ill afford cost increases. So what happens is that some businesses are forced to close, or do something else which invariably lead to job losses.

And with the cost increase comes price increase, and this, in turn, burdens the low wage workers even more. What has often happened in countries that adopt the minimum wage model is that (more) skilled workers are hired at the higher wages and the low- or non-skilled workers are inched out of the workforce completely.

Check out these articles on how the minimum wage models can potentially do more harm than good for the economy as well as for the people who actually need help the most.

INDEPENDENT | MINIMUM WAGES AND UNEMPLOYMENT: CASE CLOSED
FORBES | MISGUIDED WAGE HIKES HURT THE LEAST SKILLED JOB SEEKERS
HUFFINGTONPOST | THE MYTHOLOGY OF THE MINIMUM WAGE
THE EPOCH TIMES | HOW MINIMUM WAGE LAWS INCREASE POVERTY
LEWROCKWELL | MINIMUM WAGE LAW: STAB THE POOR AND HELP THE UNIONS



Why Progressive Wage Model is Worth a Fight

That said, I am all for helping the low wage workers. It is an undeniable fact that the cost of living has gone up sharply and for many people, the increases in their wages have not kept up enough. The income divide in Singapore is increasingly glaring.

I guess this is also why our Labour Ministers are fighting so hard for THE ADOPTION OF PROGRESSIVE WAGE MODEL. They are wanting it to be mandatory, through business licensing, for low wage jobs in some sectors to adopt the progressive wage model, for instance, the cleaning, landscaping and security industries. These are also the industries that are ‘notorious’ for exploiting or under-paying their workers (perhaps in their over-zealous effort to win contracts…)

The Progressive Wage Model is more than just legislated minimum wages for specific industries. It does not just boost pay, it also aims to increase productivity, improve skills and allow workers to enjoy better career prospects.

At least the model is supposed to work this way on paper. What about in theory? Here’s an illustration that I’d plucked and lifted from the NTUC WEBSITE.

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PWM for the Cleaning Sector wef 1st Sep

See how there’s a minimum wage of at least $1,000? And how there’re progressive ladders for the workers to climb? Yea, the system advocates ‘up your skills, up your pay’.

Guess if it works, it will be one helluva better scheme than the minimum wage model. The true test will come 1 Sep 2014 when the implementation of mandatory Progressive Wage Model in the Cleaning Sector takes effect on a total scale.

I know it’s almost unimaginable for many of us that there are people who make less than a $1,000 a month, and some of them even have a family to take care of. But for a very long time, the cleaning sector has been operating on a ‘cheap-source’ model, and cleaners’ wages have not increased much over the years. I understand that most earn something like $650 to $850.

According to THIS NTUC ARTICLE, the cleaning sector has some 70,000(!) workers, and about two-thirds are locals. Many are low-wage, low-skilled, and at the receiving end of cheap-sourcing practices and subject to unattractive working conditions and low perception of the job.

And my lord, the sort of sh*t (pun totally intended!) they have to face and to clean… seriously, I don’t think we pay them enough to do the work that they do! And mind you, it’s mighty important work that they do too! I fully, wholeheartedly support any effort to improve the wages, benefits and working conditions for this group of workers.

In a way, our Progressive Wage Model is an ‘upgraded’ version of the Minimum Wage model. The key differences would be one, different wage ranges are introduced for different jobs and industries. So it’s sort of like sectorial minimum wage, if you like. And two, there is a training component built into the model so that there’s opportunity for skill upgrading for the workers, thereby enhancing their future employability.

So viola! Instead of just a flat, one-dimensional minimum wage, we now have a range and a ladder! You can read THIS VERY CLEAR WRITE-UP ON HOW OUR PROGRESSIVE TIERED WAGE MODEL IS ACTUALLY A FORM OF MINIMUM WAGE, BUT BETTER!

Check out this video where it shows how staff in different companies and industries have benefited from the Progressive Wage Model.




And Of Course, I’d Talk about Korea, Hee!

And hee, being a Korean culture fanatic enthusiast, of course I’d looked up on whether or not it too has a minimum wage model. And yup yup, South Korea does have a minimum wage system.

For 2014, the new wage of 5210 won (S$6.40) has been implemented, higher than the previous year by some 7 percent. For 2015, they’re looking at 5580 won (S$6.86), another increase of 7.1 percent.

What are some of the reported reactions from all fronts on the planned increased in 2015?

Federation of Korean Trade Union
- We know government tried its best, but 5580 won is still not enough for low-income workers to enjoy basic standard of living
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions
- It is way lower than we expected (6700 won). We are so disappointed with Park Geun-hye administration, which promised to bring big improvement to minimum wage
Korea Employer’s Federation
- It will reduce the number of jobs eventually
- Small and mid-sized businesses in financial difficulty will be hurt by this decision

Personally, I don’t see how this is going to help solve the increasingly serious problem of unemployment amongst the younger workers and fresh graduates. And oh, you might find this article interesting, IT BLAMES THE SOUTH KOREAN PARENTS ON THE HIGH YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT. There ARE some truth in this, and I also see some parallels vis-a-vis the situation in Singapore.



Recommended Reads!

And and and… some very popular lifestyle blogs in Singapore have also taken to blog about our Progressive Wage Model (PWM)! Am so glad to see this since it’s a topic that’s usually only reported in the mainstream media (read: potentially boring), so the reach is limited. We really need more people to know about PWM!

ASPIRANTSG | PROGRESSIVE WAGE MODEL FOR PMEs TOO?

NAOMI NEO URGES HER READERS TO BECOME BETTER CUSTOMERS AT HAWKER CENTRES AND ALSO SHARES HOW NTUC’s PWM HELPS CLEANERS

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a video that illustrates what the Progressive Wage Model is all about.

If You Ever Lose Your Passport in Bangkok

Missed me? Yea, I’ve missed my little space here too! it’s been 10 days since I last blogged!

I was away on a short getaway to Bangkok Friday – Monday, and really really really wanted to blog, but sooooo many things happened during that trip, and was quite busy at work since I went back to office yesterday, so I haven’t got a chance to pop in.

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Still haven’t sorted out my trip photos, so I can’t share that yet. But I do wanna blog about something rather ‘dramatic’ that happened during the trip, so here goes!

BFF and I had long wanted to do a mother-daughter trip, but we weren’t sure of their ‘chemistry’ and our ‘group dynamics’, so we decided on a short trip to somewhere near. BFF also brought her sister. Then one thing led to another, before we knew it, there’re like eight of us making the trip, hehe!

imageAnd… coz I didn’t sleep much at all for two continuous nights, I decided to sleep in on Sunday morning whilst my mom joined my friends to Chatuchak Market.

I was lazing in bed after brekky while BFF called me on my cellphone. She said calmly, “Hey, your mom’s bag got slashed and she lost her travel purse and her passport.” (Don’t worry, my mom’s OK, just a little grouchy…)

Thankfully, she had passed some of her her money to me the night before, and she’d forgotten her usual wallet, so no SGD, no credit cards and no IC. So it was just less than S$300 worth of Thai baht and the troublesome part was actually the loss of the passport.

You see, that was Sunday, and we were due back on the noon flight on Monday. Which means we only had those few hours on Monday morning to sort out whatever paperwork needed to fly us back.

What to Do if You Lose Your Passport

Here’s a list of the things you need to do if you ever lose or have your passport stolen in Bangkok.

1. File a police report, preferably in the area the passport was lost or stolen. Make sure you get a copy of the police report.

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2. Bring the police report to your embassy and get a Document of Identity. Be sure to prepare two passport-sized photos.

And oh, it’s best if you have your NRIC or driver’s license or a copy of your passport with you. It may help expedite the verification process with ICA.

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At the embassy, they will have to check back with ICA in Singapore on your travel records and your travel documents to ensure that all’s well.

The prescribed turnaround time is three hours, but they can usually process your case in an hour. So you can choose to wait there or come back in three hours. My mom’s was done in under an hour.

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Once the verification with ICA is completed, they will prepare a Document of Identity for you.

Be sure they give you back a copy of the police report as you will need it at immigration control at both the Bangkok and Singapore airports.

This will cost you 360 Thai baht (S$15).

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This is how the Document of Identity looks like.

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Embassy of the Republic of Singapore
129 South Sathorn Road
Bangkok 10120

(Mon to Fri) 9.00 am – 12 noon and 1.00 pm – 5.00 pm
Closed on Sat, Sun and PHs

Tel: +66-(2) 286-2111 (during office hours)
Tel: +66-(81) 844-3580 (for urgent consular assistance after office hours)
E-Mail: singemb_bkk@sgmfa.gov.sg

Click HERE for more info.

3. Next, bring your Document of Identity and police report to the Thailand Immigration Bureau to have another document drawn up so that you can clear the immigration control in Thailand. This is not near the Singapore embassy >.<

Immigration Bureau Floor,
Visa Division 4, Old Building
Te1: +66-(2) 287-3911 or 287-3101-10 Ext.22

4. Proceed to Bangkok airport armed with the police report, and documents from both Singapore embassy and also from Thailand immigration.

5. At Changi Airport, go to the Immigration Control counter instead of clearing immigration at the automated lanes or the manned counters. You will need to do some thumb-print thingy at the counter and will also need to surrender your Document of Identity. This is also to officially report the loss of your report since it is stipulated that we need to report within 14 days).

6. Go apply for a new passport at ICA. It will cost you a total of $120, being $70 for application of passport and $50 for loss of passport. Processing usually takes a week.

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OTHER TIPS
1. Always bring along a copy of your passport. Alternatively, scan it and email it to your web-based email account so that you can retrieve it anywhere so long as there’s internet.

2. Keep your passport in a safe place (e.g. safe in your hotel room) or guard it tightly when going to crowded places.

3. Cross-sling your bag to the front is probably a good idea.

4. Longchamp Le Pliage bags may not be so ‘safe’ as the material is easy to slice through. Also, there ain’t many compartments in the bag, making it easier for the thieves to steal your stuff. So be extra careful if you’re using one of these bags. My BFF”s mom was also carrying a Le Pliage and her bag got slashed in the exact same way, although the thief didn’t manage to steal anything.

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5. Don’t put all your money in one basket. I always tuck my money in two separate spots to minimize the risk of losing it all. And depending on the hotels that I’m staying in, I sometimes lock my Singapore wallet in my luggage when I go out.

6. Last tip! Remember I was saying my mom had her passport stolen on a Sunday, and we were due to fly back on a Monday noon flight? Since the embassy’s closed on Sundays, we could only go to the embassy at 9am Monday. We effectively only had an hour to settle the paperwork since we needed to be at the airport at around 11am and we needed time to travel to the airport too.

So, we actually skipped the step of going to the Thailand Immigration Bureau and went straight to the airport after the embassy. We only had the police report and the Document of Identity issued by the embassy, and were missing the document from the Thai side.

If you ask really really nicely, and explain that you really don’t have time to go get that document, the airport immigration officers MAY let you through.

And we were luckier in that the SQ counter supervisor offered to accompany us through the immigration so that she could render help if we were stuck with the immigration officer.

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The super-duper-helpful counter supervisor also told us that in the event the airport immigration officers refused to let us through and we ended up having to make that trip to the Thailand Immigration Bureau, she would do the necessary to put us on a later flight without charges. Sooooo nice!!

I was so touched and impressed by her that I emailed SQ to commend her for service excellence the night that I got back! SQ ftw!

Incidentally, BFF told me another Singaporean couple was at the police station to report the loss of their wallet too. And the lady’s canvas tote bag was also slashed. And when we were at the embassy, a Singaporean man was also there to apply for the Document of Identity. He said his passport was stolen at one of the BTS stations.

The SQ supervisor told us that these are usually syndicates and many are not Thai. She said that there’re syndicates from countries such as Vietnam and Laos who would target the tourists in Bangkok. Not that it’s her fault, but she’d apologised repeatedly for our unpleasant experience, and kept saying she hoped this wouldn’t stop us from visiting again.

I’ve been to Bangkok quite many times (four times in 2014 alone, lol!), and I do like the place and also the people. So nope, this episode won’t stop me from going again, although I can’t say the same of my mom. She did say that she’s gonna stay away for awhile. She’s been asking me… “When, Japan?” ^^

So there, not that I’d wish it on anyone, but you now know what to do if you ever lose your passport or have your passport stolen in Bangkok.

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